Friday, 12 February 2016

Dippers take 2

The post name is exactly what happened. I had a short session today and on one net round there were two Dippers in the net, one bird was in the bottom shelf and the other in the top shelf.
Both birds were females, one bird was an adult and the other a juvenile based on the criteria I talked about yesterday.

Perfect timing for this photograph, more luck than judgement I hasten to add. Why do dippers have white eyelids and blink. I didn't know so I have researched this and other facts about this incredible little bird.

Dippers are small birds that have short muscular wings, short tails and very strong legs and are unique in passerines as they are aquatic. Their habitats are fast, clean oxygenated water and the river at the bottom of my garden is very turbulent with lots of white water and strong flows.

Their environment can be very cold especially at this time of year and because they feed in and under the water their feathers are waterproofed with lots of oil from their preen glands. When not walking on the river bed using their strong legs and feet to grip the bottom they can move about by swimming with their muscular wings. When under water the flaps on their nostrils close and their eyes are designed to cope with underwater vision by being protected by what is called a nictitating membrane.

To feed on the bottom it just walks underwater and turns stones and pebbles over with its beak to get the larvae of caddisfly, mayfly stonefly and other aquatic insects. Their wings can be used to help stabilise themselves and keep them on the bottom.

Being territorial it is believed that Dippers dip to ward off competitors when they become agitated in any territorial encounter, its a way of communication. Another way of communication is the blinking of the eye. The eye lid is completely feathered which are white and when the bird blinks it is very visible. Some people say that the blinking display can occur at the same time as it dip's and is again it's another way of communication. I also found out that some people do not really understand or do not know the reason why Dippers blink. So I think you have to have your own opinions and make up your own minds. If anyone has an opinion about this please make contact because I would like to fully understand why they do this.

1 comment:

  1. Great shots - and splendid timing!

    I used to see (and band) Dippers on the Derwent in Gateshead (of all places) - but that was many years ago!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

    PS: feel free to link this post to Wild Bird Wednesday on my photo-blog